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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »


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Dr. Rico has commented on (35) products.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Dr. Rico, January 15, 2012

I've thought long and hard about my Puddly vote and I keep coming back to this great book. It is far and away the funniest book of the year. Fey tells hilarious stories about the role theater played in her adolescence, what she learned at Second City, how she survived and thrived at Saturday Night Live, and how she created a hit sitcom. ("We weren't trying to make a low-rated critical darling... We were trying to make 'Home Improvement' and we did it wrong.") But it also reveals a lot about how to be a good boss, a good colleague, a good writer, a good improviser, a good parent, and a good spouse, and also how to hang on to dignity and sanity when you become the target of a national media frenzy. I've reread it six times already and expect to enjoy it for years to come.
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Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Dr. Rico, December 29, 2011

An insightful and funny tour of how several European nations ensnared themselves in financial chaos. Lewis shows that the financial crisis of 2006- manifested itself in different ways in different nations but had common roots in the global availability of easy credit. And when he turns his eyes on California, it becomes clear that the United States is headed for its own kind of financial disaster, thanks to a political system that does nothing to correct the worst tendencies of its citizens (and probably exacerbates them instead). Lewis adds more than his usual dose of humor to his characteristically clear explanations. This book was enormously enjoyable to read, even though thinking about its ideas continues to frighten me long after I put it down.
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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

Dr. Rico, November 11, 2010

Breathtaking. Lewis makes the collapse of the financial industry intelligible by telling the story of a few unlikely heroes: the tiny handful of investors who saw the disaster coming and bet against it. This gives the reader someone to root for in a story of cupidity and stupidity. In the process Lewis explains subprime lending, the derivatives built from subprime loans, the way that Wall Street firms structured themselves to make more money by selling bad investments than good ones, the failure of financial watchdogs, and Wall Street's willful disregard of risk -- to the point that the investment firms themselves started believing the lies they were telling customers, and invested their own assets in these shaky securities. In his characteristically engaging prose, Lewis shows exactly why Wall Street firms collapsed and exactly why their bankruptcies, if they had been allowed to happen, would have caused even greater economic chaos. And, in a too-brief epilogue, he shows that TARP served only to take the responsible parties off the hook. Lewis doesn't quite put things into historical perspective, but anyone who reads this book will be able to do so themselves. Highly recommended for everyone who invests and everyone who pays taxes.
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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (the Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race by Jon Stewart
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (the Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

Dr. Rico, November 4, 2010

An awfully funny book about the ways humans interact with their planet, and each other. If it's not quite as funny as "America (The Book)," it may be because it's harder to satirize general targets than specific ones. This book is at its best when it skewers specific targets, often by treating specific cases as general rules. Suitable for adult audiences who like laughing at human foibles or who seek wry grins, chortles, and howls of laughter.
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(2 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation by Susannah Gora
You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation

Dr. Rico, November 4, 2010

A thoroughly readable look at seven iconic youth movies from the 1980s and the actors who starred in them. Gora provides background information on the filmmakers and actors on five John Hughes movies ("Sixteen Candles," "Breakfast Club," "Pretty In Pink," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Some Kind of Wonderful"), plus Cameron Crowe's "Say Anything" and Joel Schumacher's "St. Elmo's Fire." She also describes how the "Brat Pack" label came to be applied to the key actors and its surprising effects on their careers and lives. Fans of the movies will enjoy reliving the films and discovering inside tidbits (like the change to the end of "Pretty In Pink," or the person who talked about Martin Sheen's heart attack to Emilio Estevez without knowing that Estevez is Sheen's son). Gora isn't a breathless admirer of these films, but she is an admirer nonetheless. She doesn't quite make the case for greatness that some of these films deserve, but she does make the case for their importance in cinema history, and makes a good argument about the emerging roles of cable TV and VCRs. Very worthwhile for general film fans, and especially anyone who loved these movies.
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